** Competition Time!! Read the review to find out more! **
Yes, I absolutely understand that there are bigger problems in the world. There are people being bombed out of their homes, collateral damage in a conflict that no-one really understands; famine sweeping across countries and killing dozens every minute, helpless whilst we in the civilised west destroy tons of excess crop production; but tell me this... have any of them ever had to deal with the Scottish midge?
However it's not just about the midge, it's also about the mosquito, the horsefly and every other damnable flying beastie that many moons ago, decided humans were in fact mobile buffet carts.
If you’ve ever gone anywhere hot, humid or Scottish on the west coast, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
In the army you were issued a variety of deterrents depending on where and when. There was the issue stuff in the non-descript green tube from Caplock, there was some off the shelf stuff from 3M (Ultrathon), and there were several variants in between and all of it kinda, sort, almost, maybe worked to some degree or other. Generally speaking though, any man worth his salt would head straight down to the nearest outdoor shop prior to deployment and demand to be served several sprays of 100% DEET, that being the active compound that stops insects dead in their tracks, burns your eyeballs and slowly but surely dissolve anything else on your body such as watch straps and if you were really lucky, skin,
So, whilst in just such a shop cradling several sprays of the stuff before heading to the coast of Portugal, I spotted a silver and shiny spray called 'Smidge'. A quick look showed not a single ounce of DEET in it, and my hardened, cynical self mocked it and was about to sling it until I thought about Miss Bane Junior and her delicate skin that comes with being only three years on this planet. I didn't really want to put DEET on her young skin. Lets be honest, a quick Wiki check of DEET brings back some fairly terrifying information on the damage it can do.
I gave it a punt, shelled out and dubiously took it with us abroad, keeping a spray of DEET handy just in case, much like when you send in the local ANA forces first but keep your boys kicking around, not that you don’t trust them or anything…
I needn't have bothered.
Smidge is made by a company in Dundee called APS Biocontrol who have developed a new method for dealing with all manner of biting beasties. The active ingredient is Saltidin (20% in total of the solution) which has been proven to be more effective than DEET but without all the negative features such as melting your face off as well as being safe for use during pregnancy.
This is what you're looking for in the shops!
The spray itself is designed to be water resistant, lasting longer than standard repellents and provides around eight hours of protection. Unlike DEET it also has a fairly pleasant and non-offensive smell and doesn’t make you weep like a child if you touch somewhere you shouldn’t with it on your hands (by accident, I hasten to add).
I run when I'm on holiday to alleviate the guilt from all the crap I eat, and I stay in a very lovely spot next to what is effectively the Portuguese breeding hub for mosquitos. Normally with DEET when I stick it on, it starts to sting and as my pores open from running, and the DEET sinks in, well, yeah, you get where I’m going with that. It’s also not always that effective anyway.
Smidge worked brilliantly. It was easier to put on as it applied better than any DEET based formula I’ve come across, it was a thin, light solution and spread well across the skin.
At the start of the holiday, I ended up with a fair few of the red nibbles prior to using Smidge, but once it was on, not a single mark on me, and that was on the beach, on the marshland, through woods, etc. Miss Bane Junior also came through scott free until the last night when we didn’t put any on her, having simply forgot, and the poor soul ended up with bites all over her knees.
Image courtesy of Smidge - not my arms, I'm far more ripped, obvs, plus there's no bloody way I'd volunteer for that test!
Having read as much as I could handle (it’s not terribly exciting stuff!), it seems that as with DEET, Saltidin blocks the antennal receptors of the biting insects and essentially camouflages us to them. Unlike DEET however, it also makes you taste like a week old kebab found down the back of a sofa – i.e. not very nice. So whereas insects can develop a tolerance to DEET after initial exposure and just barrel on in to feast on you, Saltidin actually reinforces the initial block by making you taste nasty. As with anything like this though, proper application is required to ensure maximum protection.
So, with something like this, the proof is in the pudding. It works, and it works well. As a safer and healthier alternative to any DEET based product and one that’s generally better to produce and manufacture as well, it’s an excellent choice.
It retails online at Smidgeup.com for £7 for a 75ml bottle which lasted us for around six days with top ups throughout for a family of three with lots of exposed areas requiring covered. The price is also fairly standard for the insect repellent market as well.
if you're heading out somewhere where the bugs are a concern, this is a strong recommend and worth giving it that one or two day trial to see how it compares.
That Competition: Dead simple this one, Smidge have been good enough to give away a dozen bottles of the stuff for your greasy mits. To win one, all you have to do is reply to this review in the comments box below with your own response to this question:
What public or famous person do you consider most like a biting, bloodsucking insect and why?
For god sake, lets try and balance the funny higher than the offensive, mmkay?
The best answers will be picked at random with no real thought given as to which were really the best. It'll probably just be which had the least amount of offensive material but still made us chuckle!